The Spring Without North Pole Season

Stephen Regenold
The Gear Junkie

For the first time in 18 years, the North Pole will not see visitors due to a complex combination of political and natural obstacles.

The North Pole is a very hard place to reach. It lies on a shifting ice sheet over ocean water. Unlike the South Pole, there is no land-based location from which to start an overland journey.

Visitors have a short spring window to arrive before ice becomes unstable in the summer. And this year, a combination of politics and weather has forced potential visitors to cancel their plans.

“Everybody’s disappointed, and it’s one of those situations where everybody loses,” said Eric Larsen, a polar explorer who has spent the past two weeks waiting with clients for an airplane ride to launch an expedition. “There’s a lot of money involved, from the individuals to the guides like myself. It’s a loss for everyone.”

Travel to the poles tends to be a dicey prospect. Every move has to be planned and calculated, and even the smallest problem can mushroom into a disaster.

But delays in completing an ice runway and political conflicts stymied operations. Specifically, Russian officials banned Ukranian pilots and crew from landing there.

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